FOUR goals in the opening half-an-hour set Basingstoke Town on the way to a comfortable victory over Bath City at Twerton Park last night.
Chris Flood found the net twice, with Manny Williams and Liam Enver-Marum also getting on the scoresheet as the visitors clinically exposed some atrocious defending from Bath, who have conceded seven goals in their first two games.
Despite being critical of his side’s performance in their defeat to Hemel Hempstead on Saturday, Town manager Jason Bristow gave the same starting 11 a chance to prove their worth.
They didn’t let him down, keeping possession well, attacking at pace and making the most of their chances in an impressive opening spell.
They took the lead after just six minutes, when Flood outmuscled Andy Gallinagh to get a knee to Nathan Smart’s low centre, with the ball looping beyond goalkeeper Jason Mellor and into the net.
Bath looked to respond, with Chris Allen firing a free-kick across the face of goal and Frankie Artus putting a headed chance over the crossbar.
However, Town doubled their lead on 18 minutes, when another low ball across goal from Smart caused havoc in the Bath defence. Neither Flood nor Enver-Marum were able to get a touch but the ball reached Williams and he had time to knock it back inside and widen the angle before smashing a low shot in off the post.
Bath actually played some good football, but they could not make the most of their opportunities, with Ashley Kington flashing a shot across goal and Andy Watkins heading over.
At the other end, Town were taking all of theirs, scored twice more in the space of three minutes just before the half-hour to put the game to bed.
Another cross from the right caused chaos in the area, with the ball eventually dropping to Flood on the six-yard line. He had time to take a touch before volleying into the roof of the net.
Two minutes later, and Enver-Marum had put the game beyond doubt, Flood turning provider to play him through after collecting a quick ball forward from goalkeeper Jonathan Henly.
Bath were shell-shocked and the game all but dead, with little more action before the end of the half as Town took their foot off the pedal.
The hosts emerged for the second half with renewed vigour, keen to restore some pride, but Basingstoke continued to look dangerous on the break against their high defensive line.
Former Town striker David Pratt had Bath’s best chance to score, but his diving header from Watkins’ cross cleared the crossbar.
At the other end, Enver-Marum and Flood both flashed efforts across goal from a narrow angle, while Flood was denied a hat-trick by the offside flag after heading home Tom Bird’s fine cross.
Henly was forced into serious action for the first time on 87 minutes, palming the ball around the post after Ross Stearn’s free-kick took an awkward deflection off substitute Louie Soares.
Bath pressed for a consolation goal in stoppage-time but were unable to find it, with Watkins putting two chances wide before the referee whistled to signal the end of the hosts’ suffering.
Jonathan Henly – 7 out of 10
Not really tested but looked assured between the posts. His quick ball forward set up the fourth goal.
Nathan Smart – 8
A fine display from the right-back. Rarely troubled defensively and created two goals with excellent low crosses.
Tom Bird – 7
A solid display defensively. Supported attacks well and his crosses caused problems.
Andrew Jenkinson – 7
Passed the ball well from the base of the midfield diamond.
Jay Gasson – 7
Marshalled the defence well.
Robbie Rice – 7
Strong performance in the heart of the defence.
Simon Dunn – 7
His work-rate and energy shone though, allowing other players to grab the limelight.
Shaun McAuley – 8
A box of tricks on the right side of the diamond. Linked up well with Smart to cause untold problems.
Chris Flood – 9 (Gazette Star Man)
Two well-taken goals and an assist capped a great display. Worked tirelessly to close down the home defence.
Liam Enver-Marum – 7
Got into positions that made him hard to pick up and took his goal well.
Manny Williams – 8
An intelligent display in behind the strikers was rewarded with a goal.
Sam Argent (for Enver-Marum 77min) – 6
The game was over as a contest by the time he came on. Little chance to make an impact.
Louie Soares (for McAuley 79min) – 6
Not enough time to show what he can do.
Subs (not used): Ray, Owusu, Macklin.
Bath City: Mellor, Gallinagh, Slocombe (sub Simpson 34min), Ball, Walsh, Allen, Artus, Kington, Pratt, Watkins, Hemmings (sub Stearn 52min). Subs (not used): Bowman, Adelsbury, Keary.